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Letter: Support the First Amendment, support free press, support democracy

September 7, 2017

To the Editor:

“Stop the lyin’ media!”

On a recent trip to Idaho, we saw the above message on a hand-made sign on a property along the highway. It reminded me of some recent letters regarding current events and our president and the press.

Supporting the free press is paramount to a surviving democracy. Yes, they can sensationalize and speculate, but within all of that are the facts.

The right, part of the First Amendment, allows us to gather, publish, and distribute information and ideas without government restriction and is there for a reason: governments constantly want to deny freedom of information.

In Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warns that freedom of the press in the United States is under attack from President Trump. He says that the reference to journalists as dishonest and “bad” people creating “fake” news is potentially dangerous to our freedom.

We all have to be skeptical about our news. Do we trust established media or an internet blog and our favorite radio show host? Our administration has chosen not to believe scientists … are scientific studies “fake” also? Undermining scientific advice and journalistic integrity is the fast track to fascism.

Within the first week of this year, in one of their first moves of the new Congress, House Republicans voted to gut their own independent ethics watchdog. They voted to essentially remove the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The OCE was created in March 2008 after the Abramoff scandal, in which this GOP lobbyist plead guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials.

“The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against Members, officers, and staff of the United States House of Representatives and, when appropriate, referring matters to the House Committee on Ethics.” So says the mission statement on their website at oce.house.gov.

The site goes on to explain that the OCE is governed by an eight person board, made up of “private citizens with expertise in ethics law and investigations, that are prohibited from serving as Members of Congress or working for the federal government.” Our own Doc Hastings is currently chairman.

The movement failed to disband the OCE, but would it have passed if the press didn’t find out about it and report it?

Support the mainstream press and the facts; it’s our First Amendment for a reason.

Robin Anderson

Ellensburg